The Pox

10 04 2010

Most of my readers know, I’m sure, that we don’t vaccinate our kids – at least not based on our current place in space and time. Well, this week, my children reached an important childhood rite of passage: chickenpox. (BTW, who knew it was all one word?? I’ve been spelling it wrong all week!)

Because I am a Mean Mommy, I purposefully exposed them. After carefully weighing all my options, I felt it was the best one. So we went and shared germs with some friends who had it and pretty much exactly two weeks later I found one pok* on my daughter’s neck.

the first pok

We’ve tried this before, to get The Pox. It didn’t work. But I respectfully kept my kids inside for three full weeks just in case we might happen to catch it. Three weeks of unnecessary quarantine suck.

This time around, probably because a bunch of elementary school friends found me on Facebook not too long ago, I thought back to one particular outbreak when I was in second grade. One girl caught them and not two weeks later, the rest of the class started dropping like flies. Children who hadn’t had them yet weren’t pulled from school during this, and they certainly weren’t kept home from school in case they might come down with The Pox – they only stayed home once they showed symptoms.

What changed? The vaccine. I’m not going to talk about vaccination versus the lack thereof, but the fact that our society’s attitude about chickenpox has changed – even among the natural hippie folk who avoid vaccinations – is, well, interesting. And this bothers me. For something that has, in the past, been considered a primarily harmless disease, to be changed into something dark and scary is a little unnerving.

And I don’t mean this to sound like one of those rants our elders share with us about walking uphill both ways in the snow and that if thalidomide was good enough for them it should damn well be good enough for us. ┬áBecause in this case, really – it didn’t hurt us. (I realize there were, on rare occasions, horrible complications – but so is true from vaccines, even the most mainstream doctor cannot truthfully deny that.)

foot pok

So this time around, I didn’t quarantine us. I let us live our lives – I tried to be respectful and shared this info with people in certain cases, but I didn’t stop us from enjoying life in the mean time.

And, besides, I’ve learned that adults need periodic exposure to chickenpox to keep shingles away. So you’re welcome.

eye pok

*I’m not exactly certain what the singular of “pox” is and I don’t care because, frankly, “pok” is better than whatever the actual term is. Unless it is “pok” in which case, good job, English language.


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7 responses

10 04 2010
Corey

It’s pock. A samll scrap of knowledge I’ve known for years and didn’t think I’d ever need to use but there ya go.

10 04 2010
lorien

Even poxed, that child is gorgeous. And thank you for keeping the virus going!

10 04 2010
Amy

M looks lovely w/her chicken pox. I did not get my pox until I was almost twelve. But I summarily infected all my brothers save for the one who was still in utero. It wasn’t too bad…a bit itchy but I got to be out of school a week and read tons. It’s so strange to me that most kids nowadays are vaxed for varicella and never even get chicken pox. Since most kids are now vaxed and adults are far less exposed, does this mean adults will now have more risk for shingles (since you mentioned that exposure to chickenpox helps shingles immunity).

10 04 2010
ZebraBelly

That is my understanding of it, Amy.

To be completely forthcoming, I have not done the research on this part of it myself, but it does make sense to me. It sits well with my gut instincts, as well as sounding possible based on what little I know of biology. So take all that for what it’s worth. LOL

11 04 2010
Jess

I keep hoping someone around these parts will have it, but so far, none yet!

11 04 2010
Chris Radcliff

I never got chickenpox as a kid, so I got the vaccine myself in preparation for the Geeklet getting it (hopefully from your kidlets). Since then, I managed to forget our reasons for letting him get the virus rather than the vaccine, so I found myself thinking, “If this vaccine was worth it for me, then why not for him?”

The results of my internet-fueled research last week:

1. The vaccine isn’t necessarily going to be worth it for me. It gives an immunity with an expiration date; that date isn’t known too well because the vaccine is new, but current research suggests it might be as little as five years. (It’s probably more than that, though. I certainly hope so.)

2. Getting the virus confers life-long immunity. I’d prefer that the Geeklet not have to worry about booster shots later in life, when the risks from the disease are far greater.

3. The vaccine doesn’t seem to prevent the occurrence of shingles later in life. There’s some evidence indicating that it may *increase* the likelihood of shingles, which would suck.

4. Exposure to the virus improves immunity, even if you’re already immune. (As you mentioned.) I’m not sure if that means it extends my immunity expiration (a pox snooze button?), but it is supposed to reduce my chance of shingles.

Given all that, I’ll stick with letting the Geeklet get the virus, for all our sakes. Oh, and thank you for (maybe) passing it along!

“Thank you, Easter Bunny! Pok pok!”

13 04 2010
Kirsten

The “shingles vaccine” they offer to the older generation is a version of the chickenpox vaccine they offer to the younger…

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